#kp2018 liveblog: Spatial design on the move

Iva Vávrová again – this time she’s “The Legion girl” not the dancing person. This is about walking in the snow.

Legion explores an episode in Czech history, of volunteers who had to fight their way home through Russia. It’s walking while playing.

To simulate marching 25 kilometres in the snow, we march them 25 kilometres in the snow.

Player exhaustion and character exhaustion are the same. There’s been 20 runs and counting, 54 players, 2 days, 9 locations. Stops are scripted in location. First of its kind in the Czech Republic.

A design question: how do you walk and play? How does it help? What does it bring?

Environment

The environment becomes a character, and imposes a feeling of isolation. Walking in a forest takes players apart, and it’s more doable in a small densely populated country.

Nothing needs to be perfect when you’re using nine locations. You can rely on an overall feel, and then moving them on. A single location requires more detail. Multiple locations can provide more variety for the player experience – a shelled building, a church, etc. That broken down farm from the trailer? Boring for too long, great for an hour.

Authenticity

You’re simulating a marching unit, by marching. Your interactions are real – who are you marching next to, do you help people carry things, do you help them? You can design this in – things to carry, places to cross, spaces for interaction. Marching orders. It’s a clear activity to do – it’s the start of the game, or you’re sad, or whatever. You don’t *need* to manage your game activity – because you’ll be marching. It’s also space between the organiser input…

Happy stress

Players get to be closer to their characters, because their feelings are real. They start running and shooting because others are running and shooting. Small “wow”s. Adrenaline. Endrophines.

Organisation

Command characters have a clear job – make humans walk in a direction. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not easy. They’ve had the same route, same weather, take from 30 minutes to 2 hours. It also makes it very easy to hate your officers. Why do we mutiny? We’re walking so much…. People can make 100 mistakes. And there’s so much to be pissed off about.

Challenges

Are also the same things…

And no – it is not accessible. Carrying someone on a stretcher is not an alternative. It is really hard. The fun of it lasts about 10 minutes. They run a “Relentless Run” for it…

Solutions!

Not perfect.

Accept unhappiness will happen, everyone will have a crisis – focus on making the crisis short and safe.

Environment – manage expectations, don’t claim a full 360 offer you can’t live up to, focus on the front and the direct impact, tweak the route to give them an awesome viewpoint and give NPCs little things that make the world a bit more real. Manage the atmosphere – communicate the roleplay theme though locations. Bars are loud, and for loud play. Graveyards are not, and are not.

Authenticity – We can’t forsee everything, we can try and help them not fall down large holes of from the tops of buildings. We adapt the roleplay style to the fact they they’ll be knackered. If organisers genuinely are there to help in moments of stress – then it’s easier for players to get in to the game.

Stress – we keep professional help available, cool-off times, and chocolate. We have a safety net, we never leave the players alone, we have 3 shepherds, we have concessions, we let players have health, hygiene and basic comfort.

Organisation – options for command swapping through democracy and there’s bound to be somewhere there who can be competent – the route is easier the first day, when command is less likely to be solid, and a harder route on day two, when the players ca pick their own…

Practicalities

More locations is more flexibility, but more paperwork.

Each individual location doesn’t need to be as awesome, but you will have way more way more people with way more say in the larp happening: local authorities, use of land laws, “evil hunting associations” – and it’s all more paperwork…

Coda: It’s Type II fun.

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